“Yet she will be saved through childbearing” (I Timothy 2:15)
What does this MEAN? Is giving birth — with all it’s accompanying pain and agony — a way that a woman pays penance for being a woman or for her sins? Does enduring it somehow purge and purify her before God? How the heck does childbearing “save” a woman?
I googled this this week. I found a John Piper article on the subject. He proposed that Paul was intending to say that in spite of, and even in the midst of childbearing, God is saving women. That the curse on Eve is not God’s final word over women. He also went on to talk about the gift of modern medicine and anesthesia to deliver women from the actual pain of it, but we still have pain associated with other aspects of motherhood.
Without being a theologian or knowing how to read a lick of greek, and without probably giving enough attention to the context, I’d like to talk for about my own understanding of this odd phrase: “saved through childbearing.”
For the fact is that I have been saved through childbearing. In moving into the intensity and holiness of bringing a new life into the world through my body, I have come face to face with my sin patterns, my wounds, my fears and anxiety, my lack of trust, and my ego. I have had to lean into all three members of the trinity to a greater measure than most other experiences in my life. And I have been met there by God in those vulnerable places. He has been enough, and He has filled me and I have been delivered from shame, from fear, from selfishness, from dependency on escapism and false saviors. I have been saved and re-saved. I’ve been saved, a little bit more with each birth, from my selfishness and small-mindedness, my self-doubt and anxiety. He has grown and expanded me, empowered and freed me through the act of surrendering to birth, complete with ALL the pain and mess of it.
Sisters, we’re the lucky ones. For birth is the fast track to sanctification and healing. It’s an opportunity to know and partake in the sufferings of Christ for love’s sake, to endure a cross for the joy set before us, to lay down our lives so that another might live. We get to do this. This is holy work, and we will be “saved” by submitting to it.
Don’t run from it, don’t retreat to any relief that might rob you of the potential for the sacred soul work expressed through the physical endurance and effort of giving life. It’s a gift to you from a good God, because in Christ that curse has no hold on us anymore. We can reap rich benefits from joyfully embracing the work of growing and birthing our babies.
The verse ends with “IF they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” So take up those tools and go boldly into your birth. You might be surprised at how much you experience salvation there.
And the secret — which perhaps Paul was not aware of — is that you might even ENJOY it. It may become for you a place of deep joy and satisfaction, a thing that you find yourself wanting to do again. And again. 😉